An approach used by managers around the majors as teams emerge from spring training, when backups start regularly and bench bats get plenty of swings, is not have those players go cold turkey in playing time in April.
A start here. A start there. Three innings in a rout, maybe.
While a bench player moonlighting for a regular is often noticed for the absence of the regular — is he hurt? is he resting? why is he getting a break, in April? — there is a way to win a doubleheader, as manager Tony La Russa said. The backups need reps, too, and April can be a time to get them, so they don't gather rust for use later in the season.
Enter Edmundo Sosa.
Manager Mike Shildt canvassed the clubhouse this past week to talk to his everyday players about how they'd like their schedule to unfold in the coming week. His idea was to score them a break at some point in this stretch of games before the arrival of a 17-game, 17-day stretch later in the month. A day off in the series finale Wednesday against Washington means back-to-back days off including Thursday's travel day.
Yadier Molina did not play in the 14-3 rout Tuesday night, getting his 2,000th game at schedule instead Wednesday with Adam Wainwright on the mound.
That means shortstop Paul DeJong and center fielder Dylan Carlson are the regulars getting a breather Wednesday.
Sosa will make his first start of the season.
Lane Thomas gets a run in center, where he was a few days ago.
Sosa is the Cardinals' alternate option at shortstop, and he'd be in the discussion if the Cardinals need someone to handle the position for an extended stretch. Tommy Edman would be the other option, with Matt Carpenter taking over at second base. Sosa joins Daniel Ponce de Leon as the Cardinals players whose roster situation assures the team will do what it can to keep them on the roster.
Sosa and Ponce de Leon are out of options, and to be sent to the taxi squad or minor-league camp or alternate-site camp they must be moved through waivers.
The other 29 teams will have a chance to nab them.
The Cardinals have invested years in Sosa, who signed with the team as an international free agent and spent several years as their top prospect at shortstop. Two years ago, he advanced offensively during a swing through winter ball, and that carried into spring training and heightened his spot on the team's depth chart. This past spring, he struggled and was outplayed by several other candidates for the backup shortstop spot -- most notably Jose Rondon. But, Sosa had the roster edge. Rondon was a non-roster invite to camp and is still not on the 40-man roster. Sosa is out of options.
The Cardinals said they weren't in a position entering April to lose talent from the roster. Sosa went north.
And they're not in a position to let a player idle.
Sosa gets a start.
Here are the lineups, with Washington making a La Russa-like twist:
1. Tommy Edman, RF
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
4. Yadier Molina, C
5. Matt Carpenter, 2B
6. Justin Williams, RF
7. Lane Thomas, CF
8. Edmundo Sosa, SS
9. Adam Wainwright, P
1. Trea Turner, SS
2. Juan Soto, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
4. Kyle Schwarber, LF
5. Josh Harrison, 2B
6. Starlin Castro, 3B
7. Yan Gomes, S
8. Joe Ross, RHP
9. Victor Robles, CF
Complete coverage and Rick Hummel's instant gamer coming this afternoon at StlToday.com.